Heartfelt entry takes out the 2009 'What Matters?' essay competition

Date: 04/06/2009

The Whitlam Institute within the University of Western Sydney has announced Loreto Kirribilli student Kate Jordan as the overall winner of the 'What Matters?' essay competition for 2009.

Former Prime Minister, The Hon. Gough Whitlam, AC QC, attended the special Whitlam Institute awards ceremony at the UWS Parramatta campus today, to congratulate Kate and the other 'What Matters?' finalists.

Each year, the Whitlam Institute invites NSW and ACT school students in years 5-12 to submit a 400-600 word opinion piece on the issues in society that are important to them.

The 2009 competition, proudly sponsored by Officeworks, attracted a record total of 1114 entries on a diverse range of topics including obesity, animal cruelty, family relationships, bullying, world poverty, social responsibility, global warming, and the importance and power of the inquiring mind.

Kate Jordan, a year 10 student from Loreto Kirribilli, caught the attention of an esteemed panel of judges for her essay 'My Sister Lily' - a heart-felt entry which focuses on the importance of family and the complexities of autism.

Director of the Whitlam Institute, Mr Eric Sidoti, says Kate's essay is just one example of how young Australians are passionate and switched on to life's big issues.

"Kate's essay is an imaginative portrayal of life with a sibling who has autism. It stands out as a bravely told story of the frustration, joy, but above all love that a sister can feel for her sibling."

As part of special 'What Matters?' ceremony, competition patron Dr Hugh Mackay presented each category winner and runner-up with a certificate signed by Mr Whitlam, as well as a monetary prize and an invitation to attend a young writer's workshop.

ActNow, an initiative of the Inspire Foundation, also offered the year 11/12 category winner, Kar Leng Chui from Sydney Secondary College, with an all expenses paid place in their two-day 'Cash for Comment' writing program, and the ongoing opportunity to be paid for her writing.

As an additional prize, five participating schools were announced by Felicia Booth, Officeworks Public Relations Manager as the winners of Officeworks gift cards to the value of $1,000 each: Strathfield South Public School, Umina Public School, Lumen Christi Catholic College (Pambula, NSW), Sacred Heart Primary School (Pearce, ACT) and Sydney Technical High School (Bexley, NSW).

Essays were judged by award-winning author Emily Rodda; Sydney Morning Herald journalist and author Andrew West; Julie Hare, editor-in-chief of APN Educational Media; Deborah Cameron, Mornings Presenter at 702 ABC Sydney; Adele Horin, Sydney Morning Herald journalist and opinion writer; and Eric Brace from the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation.

The category winners are:
Year 5/6, Jessica Black, Beverly Hills North Public School
Year 7/8, Jonathan Hopkins, Sydney Technical High School
Year 9/10, Kate Jordan, Loreto Kirribilli
Year 11/12, Kar Leng Chiu, Sydney Secondary College Blackwattle Bay

The category runners-up are:
Year 5/6, Amy Robinson, South West Rocks Public School
Year 7/8, Sophie Walter, Masada College
Year 9/10, Sarah Fitzgerald, Loreto Kirribilli
Year 11/12, Hayley Lincoln, Lake Illawarra High School

Proud sponsor Officeworks is delighted with the calibre of the winning entries, as well as the overall response to the competition by schools and students across New South Wales and the ACT.

"We are thrilled to be part of nurturing this next generation of thoughtful, young Australians who demonstrate such astonishing depth, maturity and compassion for the societal issues which surround them" says Officeworks Public Relations Manager Felicia Booth.

All winning 'What Matters?' entries will be published on the Whitlam Institute website: http://www.whitlam.org/



Media Officer

Danielle Roddick
02 9678 7086, 0414 308 701